February 17, 2017

From the Pouch

Volume 3, Issue 9–February 17, 2017


Welcome Back

We’re well into the Spring Semester, though it really doesn’t look a lot like spring.  We had a pretty good snowfall earlier in the week–more than a foot, which is unusual all at once–but it’s supposed to warm up later this week so a lot of it should melt off.  All in all, it has been a mild winter up until now.  Hopefully, the rest of February and March won’t go the other way.



Happy Birthday!

It’s birthday time in the Szafran household.  My father Daniel just turned 90 on February 8, and son Mark turned 33 on February 9.  True story:  When wife Jill was pregnant with Mark, my father was hoping that he’d be born on February 8 so that they could celebrate their birthdays together.  When February 8 came, Jill hadn’t gone into labor, so I called my father and told him that it looked like he wasn’t going to get his wish.  Just as we were preparing to go to bed, Jill came over to me and said “It’s time”, and sure enough, she delivered Mark at about 3:00 AM on February 9.  When I told my father he had just missed having his wish granted, he said “What are you talking about?  I was born in Poland—there’s a 7 hour time difference between here and there, so you made it!”  So, for many years, they indeed always celebrated their birthdays together.

If any of you have a February birthday, congratulations!  You’re in good company.


New Degrees!

We’ve gotten final approval lately about new degrees that we will be offering at SUNY Canton.  Getting a new degree approved is a long process–it can take more than a year to write the proposal up, get it approved on campus, send it to SUNY, respond to other colleges that may comment on it (or not want you to offer it), get approval from SUNY, and get approval from the NY State Department of Education.  It can get quite complicated, but we have some good news to announce.


Our first new degree is in Game Design and Development.  This is a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree that will focus on the design and production of modern video games.  Students enrolling in the program will learn how to design and program these games on multiple computer platforms and for different kinds of devices, and will get lots of hands-on experience creating video games for commercial, educational, and medical audiences.  Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, and a major hub of video game manufacture is nearby in Montreal.  The program will be offered starting this coming fall semester.


The second degree approved is in Agribusiness.  This is a 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration degree that will focus on the management side of modern farming.  As many of you may know, SUNY Canton began its history way back in 1906 as a College of Agriculture.  Many of our most successful graduates in St. Lawrence County and across the state began their careers in the college’s agriculture programs.  Over the years, most of these programs were phased out, so offering this program is a way for us to tie in to our original roots.  Students in this program will learn principles of accounting, finance, marketing, strategy, operations, human resources, economics, ethics, and communications, and learn to apply them to agriculture.  We will also be partnering with local agricultural enterprises to provide internship opportunities for students.  The Agribusiness program will be offered starting this coming fall semester.


Visit to SUNY

While some people give out chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day,  SUNY Canton got to celebrate with a visit to Albany for our Campus Visit, which was an opportunity for us to speak with folks at the systems office about how we’re doing on campus relative to our performance improvement plan; what our current vision is for the College; what we think the College could be in 2025 if money weren’t an issue; what we think our strengths,  weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are; and to propose some areas that we’d like some funding from SUNY for.  A group of 11 of us participated in preparing our responses, including me, the vice presidents, our student government president Nikki Zeitzman, our associate provost, our co-chief diversity officers, our Faculty Assembly moderator (who got sick and wasn’t able to attend the meeting), and our UUP local union president.


We left Canton at about 7 AM for the drive down to Albany and fortunately the weather cooperated, so we had a pleasant ride.  We got there just in time for a quick lunch, and then went over to SUNY for our 1 PM meeting.

By all accounts the meeting went well, and I think our colleagues at SUNY now have a stronger understanding of the many great things going on at SUNY Canton today, and the even greater things we are planning and working toward for the future.  Hopefully, they’ll invite us to submit  proposals for funding on some of the ideas we presented.


Long Trip

I went on a marathon trip last month, starting on January 17th and running to the 29th.  Leg one had me going to Nashville for the NCAA National Convention.  SUNY Canton became a full member of NCAA Division III this past year.

The drive down to Syracuse to catch my flight was mostly fine and I took off on time for Chicago where I was changing planes.  The connecting flight to Nashville was only three gates away and we got on the flight on time.  After taxiing out from the gate, we sat there for about 45 minutes (which the pilot initially said was due to heavy traffic), and were then told there was a mechanical problem.  The plane returned to the gate, we sat there a bit longer while a repair crew looked things over, and were then taken off the plane.  After another hour or so, they announced that we would be going onto another plane in a short while, and 45 minutes later, we did.  I arrived in Nashville almost three hours late, and by the time I got to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, all the restaurants were closed and I had to content myself with a pretty dismal pre-packaged sub.

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel is a pretty impressive place—they say it’s the biggest hotel in the U.S. that doesn’t have a casino associated with it.  After checking in, it was a long walk  to where my room was, involving a couple of escalators, a sky bridge, and two elevators before I got there.  The hotel reminded me of San Antonio’s Riverwalk—there are several “rivers” inside (you can even take a boat ride on one of them) with restaurants alongside, and the skywalk was over an area with lots of exotic plants.


The first big event was the NCAA Honors Celebration, showcasing students who have overcome great adversity or challenge to excel both scholastically and athletically.  There were also others who were chosen on the 25th anniversary of their graduation.  The Theodore Roosevelt Award for Astounding Accomplishment went to Beth Brooke-Marciniak, who was a great basketball player who went on to become a business leader at Ernst and Young and is now their Global Vice Chair of Public Policy and was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most powerful women.  Other sessions during the week focused on the Fair Labor Standards Act, social justice in in college sports, and a bunch of business meetings.  Our own Courtney Bish (VP for Student Affairs) was selected to attend the Athletics Direct Reports Institute at the NCAA Conference, one of only 43 selected nationwide from Division III.  Congratulations, Courtney!

I left Nashville on Sunday morning, taking an early United Airlines flight to Washington DC.  By an odd coincidence, the person sitting next to me on the plane was Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State College, and a friend from back in Georgia days.  My connection time in Washington was supposed to be an hour, but after getting on the plane to Albany, we had to get off because of mechanical problems.  This time the delay was five hours before they could get us on another plane.  The airport was filled with women who had participated in the National Women’s March the previous day and were returning home.  It was interesting to hear their stories about the March, and how excited and energized they were to get more politically involved.  The flight finally took off at about 5:30 PM, and was otherwise uneventful.  A few minutes after arriving in Albany, I got a news announcement on my phone—all domestic flights on United had been cancelled due to a computer malfunction, so I had barely made it onto the flight on time. 

On Monday morning, I went over to the Egg in Albany to attend a breakfast honoring SUNY’s Chancellor, Nancy Zimpher.  Chancellor Zimpher will be leaving her position at the end of the academic year, so this was our chance to say “thanks” for everything she has done and to wish her well in the future.  The breakfast was followed by the Chancellor’s annual State of the University Address, where she talked about two new initiatives.  The first, the SUNY Impact Foundation, will be created to raise funds to support degree completion and student success on all campuses.  The second was the creation of the SUNY Center for Systems Change, which will focus on continuous improvement within the system.  There were several pictures of SUNY Canton in her presentation, thanks to the good efforts of our PR folks. 

Following the Address, I joined Lenore VanderZee (Executive Director for University Relations) to speak with our own State Senator Patty Ritchie.  Senator Ritchie is a strong supporter of SUNY Canton, and is especially interested in our efforts in agriculture, nursing, and economic development.  She noted: “Centers of learning—like SUNY Canton—are key to helping people have bright futures, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work together to improve higher ed opportunities for students.”


We then met with Deborah Glick, the Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.  Assemblymember Glick is a strong supporter of SUNY and of higher education in general.  We discussed some of the new initiatives we are taking at the College, as well as Governor Cuomo’s new Excelsior Scholarship initiative.  Our third meeting was with members of Senator Kenneth LaValle’s staff on the same issues, and they were strongly supportive.

That evening, we attended the Business Council’s Legislator’s Reception, where we met several colleagues from other SUNY campuses and several business leaders, including one I found out was our own alumnus—Tom Landry (no, not the football player, though he’s met him!), who works at blueRock Solar.

On Tuesday morning, I met with our local Assemblywoman, Addie Jenne.  I’ve met with her many times, both at formal meetings and at various events around the region, and I always enjoy hearing her viewpoints.  She is also a strong supporter of the College and is interested in several of our new initiatives.  From there, it was down to SUNY Central to meet with Gloria Lopez, who is the System – wide Affirmative Action Officer in SUNY’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a Fulbright scholar.  We chatted a bit about world music and about some of the initiatives we are planning that will enhance diversity on our campus.  Gloria has lots of interesting ideas that I look forward to sharing with our Executive Diversity Council.

After lunch, I went to the airport for the third leg of my trip—visiting alumni in Florida The flight was fine and I arrived in Orlando on time.  The moment I walked out of the terminal, Peggy Sue Levato from our Advancement Office was there, having correctly guessed which door I’d emerge from.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we got together with several alumni in the area.  We drove to New Smyrna Beach and checked in to the Best Western, right on the beach.  My room had a very nice beach view and even had a small balcony.


That afternoon, we went to an alumni gathering that was well attended, and I was very happy to see former SUNY Canton President Joe Kennedy and his wife Dine there, as well as several foundation board members Gil White, Bob Raymo, and Chris Gray.  I gave a short presentation updating everyone about what’s going on at the College, and they all were very pleased at our progress on multiple fronts.


On Thursday, we drove down to the Villages, a new and very large city that has been established near Leesburg. We met with Rosella Valentine (’68) and her husband John at a very nice restaurant.  It’s always nice to see them—Rosella is a long-time member of the foundation board (I learned it was her 40th anniversary of service on the board!) and John and I share a love of classical music and opera.  On Saturday, we went to another alumni gathering, this time in Summerfield.  Joe and Dine Kennedy had made the trek out to be at this meeting too, and it was another well-attended gathering.


Afterwards, it was back in the car for the ride up to Orlando, to stay at the Airport Fairfield Inn.  We left Orlando on Sunday, getting to Syracuse at about 4 PM, and after a stop in Watertown for dinner, I finally got home at about 8 PM.  The next morning?  Back to work on campus for a bunch of meetings that had stacked up in the 12 days I was gone.


Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest dealt with word that begin with the letter “Q”. Our fastest responder with all five correct was Marlene Cazahuati.  Just come to my office on the 6th floor of MacArthur Hall to get your prize, Marlene—a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.

Others getting all four right (so better luck next time!) included Lee Meggison, Beoncia Chaplin, Zhamal Nurdin, and Peyton Robinson.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. Sound a duck makes.  Quack.
  2. It’s worth 25 cents.  Quarter.
  3. Royalty whose albums include Black Reign, Order in the Court, Trav’lin Light, and Persona.  Queen Latifah.
  4. French-speaking Canadian province.  Quebec.


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

Continuing our trek through the alphabet, this issue’s challenge is about words that begin with the letter “R”, which should certainly test your vocabulary! The first with all five correct wins a $10 Gift Card, good anywhere on campus. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO answers@canton.edu since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. You rent movies from it, and it’s located just outside the Price Chopper, Wal-Mart, and many other stores.
  2. Oakland’s football team.
  3. Born in Barbados, this singer’s albums include Music of the Sun, A Girl Like Me, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rated R, Unapologetic, and Anti.
  4. Athletic footwear company, their products include the ventilator, zig, nano, and ZQuick TR.
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